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The Freedmen's Bureau Online

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Tennessee
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1869
National Archives Microfilm Publication M999, roll 34
"Reports of Outrages, Riots and Murders, Jan. 15, 1866 - Aug. 12, 1868"

Affidavits regarding the 1866 Memphis Riot

Anna George - affidavit - states that on 1st May '66 she witnessed an encounter between police & discharged col'd soldiers - that Chief shot 3 of soldiers dead - next day saw white men kill 2 more soldiers - afire a school house - also throw a wounded girl into the flames & fired on her mother when interceding on her daughters behalf.

Before me personally appeared the undersigned Anna George and being duly sworn deposes as follows:

My name is Anna George. I live in Memphis, Tenn. On South St. near Mr. Ryan's grocery. On the 1st of May 1866 while standing at the door of the Ryan's grocery I saw a big fat Policeman called "Reddy" attempt to arrest a soldier for being drunk. The other soldiers prevented the arrest. The officer then left and said "I'll see you before daylight" and went to Causey St. where there were several white policemen. After joining the policemen alluded to and holding a few moments conversation with them, they all returned towards the colored men who ran towards the Fort and as they were running the police fired a number of shots at them and kept following and firing. I followed and saw three colored men dead, three more shot. Then the col'd men exchanged shots and immediately broke & ran again. I saw "Reddy" & "Johnson" (policemen) firing at the colored men.

On the next morning the 2nd I saw a number of white men shoot and kill two colored soldiers who were passing along quietly attending to their own business. I then saw the mob fire the col'd school house at the corner of South & Causey Sts. and also bring furniture out of the houses of colored people and throw it into the fire. The houses were owned by white people. In the evening they set fire to the houses and I went to see it.

I saw the girl Frances Johnson who was shot and groaning, her mother was upbraiding the mob when they took the girl who was still alive and threw her into the fire and shot at her mother who ran away. The girl was burnt to death.

There was quite a number of police with the crowd, they were encouraging them to go on. The police had badges on at the time and did not arrest anyone.

Anna (x) George

Subscribed and sworn to before me at Memphis, Tenn. this 18th day of May 1866.
(sgd) Michl. Walsh
Capt. & A. A. A. G.
& P. M. Freedmen